Recently a friend said, “If the bishops could just be with the people, like Archbishop Romero, I know they would get it.” When I think about Archbishop Romero’s conversion process, it was catalyzed by the murder of a priest whom he admired deeply. Thus began his transformation to become the champion of the poor. It was a process involving grief and courage, and ultimately led to his own assassination. I would spare such painful, drastic learning to anyone. Yet, Romero’s deep connection to the suffering of his people changed both his life and the history of El Salvador. Spending time with the people–getting to know them– leads to love. Hearing directly about someone’s life experience, fosters deeper understanding.
This KCTS-9 interview with Seattle’s Dan Savage is an excellent way to start exploring difference by learning what it was like to grow up gay.
I was among some 200 Catholics who marched in last Sunday’s Gay Pride parade with the Catholics for Marriage Equality group. It was an amazing experience for many of us. Carrying signs affirming the civil right of gay people to marry, we felt the love coming back to us from the crowd. Fellow marcher John Dunn noted that “People thanked us for marching as Catholics.” Another marcher said, “I felt like a rock star.”
Seeing that sea of celebrating, multi-ethnic, creatively-attired, and passionately convicted throng of people lining the street, I could feel both their pain and joy. The suffering of being different was the root of the pain, yet it was trumped by the total freedom to be authentically oneself without judgment and condemnation. “Out and proud” they were. The energy was infectious. I was moved to tears.
And if, as French novelist Leon Bloy once said, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence God,” God was undeniably present and glowing in the hearts and minds and faces of that amazing crowd. You had to be there. I’m glad I was.